“What we really need now is dry cat food.” Robin, the volunteer coordinator for Animal Rescue New Orleans sounded overworked yet impassioned over the phone. “Thank you for remembering us—it often feels like the rest of the world has forgotten.”
Animal Rescue New Orleans was founded in response to the plight of animals in the post-Katrina catastrophe. And they are still working, servicing over 3,000 feral cat feeding stations, running TNR programs, as well as tending to the cats and dogs they are rehabilitating in their warehouse shelter.
So many of the cats that were left behind were not neutered or spayed—and in the ruble and chaos of the shattered neighborhoods, they have been reproducing. Some estimates put the figure at 50,000 feral cats in New Orleans.
“Whenever I spot a friendly cat, one that was left behind, I try to bring it in, rehab it and find it the home it deserves. But there are so many. We have 78 in the shelter at the moment. We just shipped out 55 to shelters in Arizona and Massachusetts—but our cages continue to fill up fast.”
Denise Truelove (what a great name!) started working on Whiskas cat food marketing just a couple of weeks ago. Doane foods, the manufacturer of Whiskas, was recently purchased by Mars (as in candy bars and much more), the whole company just relocated to the Nashville area. “We are in the midst of a lot of changes. Everyone is getting their bearings, but we want to help out with the Katrina cats. Whiskas loves cats.”
Denise and her collegue from sales, Chad, met me in the PetSmart parking lot in Franklin, TN to load up my van with cat food. Kindness and enthusiasm, warm hearts and good wishes. “Drive safely! Be sure to tell the cats of New Orleans that Whiskas remembers them!”
8 ½ hours of driving later, I was whizzing past the Superdome. That place must haunt the memory of everyone who watched the events of Katrina unfold (not to mention those who survived it.)
The skyline was soothing in its familiarity, like any other city, tall buildings standing stoic against the sky. I pulled off the highway towards the Garden District. I could have been in Boston or San Francisco, underpasses and overpasses dropping into urban brick and congested parking. Until I saw my first two FEMA trailers, decorated with plastic flowers, next to a home that had imploded.
It is March, 2007 and I have arrived in New Orleans to spend 2 weeks volunteering with Animal Rescue New Orleans.
Preview of Coming Attractions
Over the next several months, I will be traveling across the country in search of cat stories, visiting innovative cat rescues and shelters, interviewing eccentric cat lovers, leading vets and behaviorists and so much more. To view my travel schedule and learn more about my Cat Behaviorist business, please visit http://www.thecatbehaviorist.com/ . If I will be in your area and you feel you have some interesting cat stories to share, please don't hesistate to contact me via my website.